On Monday morning, November 8, the General Chapter of the Brothers of Our Lady Mother of Mercy (CMM) was officially opened with a Eucharistic Celebration, presided over by Father Marijn van de Laar.
In the general chapter there are 23 brothers and one associated member present from 4 continents. Unfortunately four brothers were unable to meet the requirements of a visa and COVID-19 vaccinations and therefore, were not able to travel to the Netherlands. Covid-19 dictates the setting to some extent: the opening Mass was celebrated with limited singing; the brothers keep as much distance as possible; they wear protective masks and are tested regularly. Nevertheless, the general chapter began in a festive setting and in an atmosphere of brotherhood.
During the first day the participants focused on the identity of the brothers and on the reality of Mission. The second and third day was dedicated to the development of a Mission Statement.
In his opening address Brother Lawrence looked back on the past. He mentioned the names of the brothers who had passed away during this period: “We are grateful for their example of brotherhood and service and we will remember their names with warm feelings and respect.” He also mentioned the special themes that came up in recent years: the Year of Consecrated Life (2014-2015), the Year of Mercy (2016), the celebration of 400th anniversary of the Vincentian charism (2017), the centenary of Brother Andreas (2017) and the 175th anniversary of the Congregation (2018-2019).
He ended his remarks with a brief reflection on the Chapter motto, Called to be merciful brothers, courageous and joyful in today’s world. He said, among other things: “We are called to be merciful brothers. We receive our vocation as gift and it is God who invites us to be a merciful brother. We do not become merciful brothers on our own merits, not even because we decide to do so. Our vocation is not a personal achievement but rather it is an invitation we receive from and through others.
The aim of the Chapter is to renew together our vision of our mission, not just by looking at the past and the present, but also by reflecting together on the signs of the times and the needs of the world, the world of today and tomorrow.”
Brother Lawrence emphasized that the Congregation has a mission to fulfill in today’s world. So when the Chapter members reflect on policy and mission, they will have to look outwards, to the world of today and its needs, and to the world of tomorrow. “May the discussions in the General Chapter reflect an openness to the world and an openness to the future.”
Pictures: Nelleke Verstijnen